2016 Devinci Django Carbon 29 GX
Size Tested: Medium
- Drivetrain: Sram GX
- Brakes: SRAM Level TL
- Fork: Fox Float 34 Performance Elite
- Rear Shock: Fox Float Factory Series
Travel: 120 mm rear / 130 mm front
Blister’s Measured Weight: 29.7 lbs (13.47 kg) without pedals
Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada
I rode the Django 29 at Interbike’s outdoor demo, which is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. While people like to shun Vegas, the Bootleg trails are a little oasis of awesomeness in a land that’s otherwise dominated by neon excess. Bootleg has a mix of fast, sandy flow, and rocky cheese grater gnarliness that’s plenty technical. If you haven’t been, Bootleg is a worthy stop on any southwestern road trip.
Normally, Blister tries to get as much time on a bike as we realistically can so that we have time to play around with setup, get comfortable with the fit, and hopefully reveal any durability issues that might arise. But for obvious reasons, spending an hour or so on a bike at Interbike’s outdoor demo doesn’t give us the time to give the bike our usual treatment.
That said, there’s a lot of value in riding a bunch of different bikes, back to back on the same trails. Traits that might not be obvious when the bikes are ridden weeks or months apart become evident.
We try our best to get the bikes set up like we’d set up our own personal bikes, so that means dialing in the cockpit and suspension as best as possible, and we’ll often fuss with air pressure and other settings mid-ride to try to address any perceived issues. But given the short time on the bike, there’s only so much we can do, and we also take the component spec as we get it – sometimes the bars are too narrow, the seat too wide, or the tires too… crappy.
The “too long, didn’t read” version of this caveat is simply this: back to back comparisons on great trails are useful, but don’t take this as the final word on these bikes, especially when it comes to maintenance and durability issues.
Devinci release the smaller wheeled, Django 27.5 (or as Devinci calls it, just the Django) last spring, and it looked to be a solid contender in the “short-ish travel, fun all around” kind of trail bike. But since Devinci discontinued the Atlas a couple years ago, a 29er was conspicuously absent from their lineup.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of shorter travel 29ers that have a bit more aggressive geometry, and the newly released Django 29 falls squarely into that category. So with that in mind, the new Django 29 was one of the bikes that I was most interested to try out at Interbike. But it’s going up against some stiff competition with bikes like the Evil Following, Transition Scout, Salsa Horsethief, and a bunch of others contending for “funnest.”
The Django 29 that I rode had a carbon frame built with Devinci’s GX build. Devinci also offers this same build kit hung on an aluminum framed Django 29, which saves around $700, but gains a little over 2 lbs (roughly 1020 grams) and gets a downgraded rear shock. Personally, I’d say those kinds of weight savings are worth the price, but your mileage may vary.
The highlight of the Django 29 lineup is the suspension – Fox suspension throughout, and from the GX build on up, they all have really good Fox suspension. For starters, every carbon Django 29, from the NX up to the X01 gets the same rear shock: a Fox Float Factory Series (although it’s worth noting that the aluminum frames bump down to a Float Performance Elite).
The GX build gets a Fox Float 34 Performance Elite fork, which is excellent. No, it’s not quite as nice as the Factory series forks on the higher end models, but literally the only difference is that the Performance Elite version misses out on the Kashima coated fork legs (hence the black color, instead of gold). I’m generally a fan of the 34 forks – the damping feels a bit more supportive than it’s main competitor, the Rockshox Pike, and the Fox is a bit lighter too.
The GX drivetrain is a solid performer – while it’s not quite as light, nor is the shifting quite as crisp as the higher end offerings, it works impressively well. On a number of occasions, I’ve swapped between an X01 drivetrain and a GX drivetrain, and functionally I have to look pretty hard for differences that actually matter.
The Django 29 is also sporting Sram’s relatively new 2 piston Level TL brakes. In terms of lever feel, they’re fairly similar to Sram Guides, although they seem to have a touch less power. None of the trails at Bootleg really involved giving the brakes a hard workout, so I’ll have to reserve judgment as to whether I miss having the extra pistons of the Guide brakes.
Perhaps the most interesting component choice on the Django 29 was the dropper post – a 125mm FSA “Adjustable Seatpost” (yes, that’s the actual name of the product). It worked well for my short test, but according to FSA’s website, the post weighs only slightly less than a lead brick, and the tall seatpost head might be an issue for shorter riders that don’t run a lot of seatpost out of the frame.
For wheels, the Raceface AR24 rims mated to Boost spaced Formula hubs did well for my short test – I can’t make any long term durability conclusions, but they seemed decently stiff during my ride. Mounted to those wheels was a Maxxis Highroller II in the front and a Maxxis Ardent in the rear. The 2.3” Highroller is one of my favorite tires on the market for a 29er, but I’m not at all a fan of the Ardent – it loses traction too easily, and not always predictably. The rear tire would be the first thing I’d change if this were my bike.
Fit and Geometry
The Django 29, like many of Devnici’s bikes, has adjustable geometry, which is easily changed by flipping around the hardware on the rearward rocker arm pivot. My time on the Django 29 was spent with the bike in “low” mode, so all of the numbers I’m discussing here are based on that setting.
The Django 29 follows Devinci’s recent trend of substantially lengthening their bikes. A 440 mm reach on the size Medium I rode is at the long end – there’s only a few bikes on the market that are longer. That said, a relatively steep seat 74.5° seat tube angle keeps the cockpit from feeling too stretched, and the top tube on a medium comes in at a reasonable 602 mm.
If all of those numbers don’t mean much to you, I’d say that the Django 29 feels a bit more stretched out than an “average” Medium sized bike, but not excessively so. I generally fall squarely into what most companies would call a Medium, and I’d certainly go with a Medium in the Django 29.
The Django 29 has a 68° head angle, which gets .5° steeper in “high” mode, but can also be brought down to 67.5° with the use of Devinci’s FRG cup. My test bike didn’t have the cup installed, but I think I’d prefer the bike with that slightly slacker head angle (more on that below).
The stays on the Django 29 measure 434 mm, which is pretty middle of the road these days. There are plenty of 29ers that have shorter stays, but for a bike like this, I’m a fan of a slightly longer stay. The rear end on the Django 29 felt short enough to retain some playfulness, but long enough to help out in corners and on steep climbs.
NEXT: The Ride, Bottom Line